After moving to a new city, young Andy Barclay receives a special present from his mother -- a seemingly innocent Buddi doll that becomes his best friend. When the doll suddenly takes on a life of its own, Andy unites with other neighborhood children to stop the sinister toy from wreaking bloody havoc.
Child's Play is back in theatres with its first reboot in 31 years. This means there is no involvement from longtime writer Don Mancini, and the doll is no longer voiced by Brad Dourif. In Dourif's place, we have Jedi and big-time voice actor Mark Hamill, who--fun trivia fact--actually voiced the Chucky doll on an episode of the animated TV series Robot Chicken.
One aspect of the previous Child's Play films that I avoided talking about because it was the most unrealistic aspect of the premise, was the black magic and voodoo. In this iteration, that entire origin has been discarded in favour of a much more grounded approach. This works in general, but it raises the issue that something that is too grounded in reality leaves little space for realistic tension and suspense. All of a sudden, the activities, behaviours, and physics that made sense under the old premise, don't quite stack up under the new.
But in general, I like the new direction. It has its flaws, but it does feel more believable. What I'm not a huge fan of, is the new design of the Buddi doll. Unlike before where an innocent looking Good Guy doll turns evil, we now have the Buddi doll that is unnerving the entire time. Not very helpful when you want to gradually build tension throughout the film if you are already feeling overly tense right from the start.
One of the aspects that the film does really well, is the comedy. There are many aspects that are guaranteed to get a chuckle out of the audience, stemming from physical comedy, pop culture references, and fish-out-of-water scenarios. If you have watched the earlier Chucky films, I would liken it to 1998's Bride of Chucky where there are some legitimately good comedic elements, but the tone of the film, as a horror, suffers as a result.
The film is a very slow build until it reaches the final act of the film. Like pushing a boulder off a cliff, it takes forever to start moving, carries on rather consistently once it starts rolling, but once it gets to the edge there is no coming back as it falls uncontrollably. I would have preferred a much more grounded in-home scenario, but this film seems adamant that they will incorporate as many elements from all seven of the other films into this remake to ensure its success, but it ends up becoming convoluted, messy, and unmanageable.
There is actually a really good area of development in the film where Chucky is learning things, which was engaging. Finding out how activities and human behaviours that would effect the learning development of the doll, and seeing what would cause a doll to think the use of a knife is a suitable approach to anything, it raises a lot of questions about human nature and what we practice vs what we preach. It has an interesting effect to almost make you empathise with the doll, but this section of the film is soon ignored and the Buddi doll becomes a one-dimensional character for the remainder of the runtime.
I expected better things from the cast. Well, Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation and Legion) is a name and face that I am well familiar with but her performance is apathetic and unengaging. Child actor Gabriel Bateman is much more convincing, but the remainder of the cast seem to be present purely to fill a quota, and provide potential meat for the grinder.
This could still work well for a new audience that hasn't seen the franchise previously, but for Chucky fans, this will likely disappoint. Hamill is fine, but without the original origin story, there is no big reveal, and the Buddi doll lacks the intensity and unhinged sadistic streak that brought terror to the big screen the last time. The deaths are creative but are seriously deficient in the gore department (despite the R16 rating), and don't come with the witty one-liners.
With technological advancement since the origins of the franchise in the '80s, there was potential to restrict the environments of the film and combine Chucky with the technological integration of, for example, HAL 9000 (2001: A Space Odyssey) into a really claustrophobic horror flick. Unfortunately, what we ended up with instead is relatively banal and uninspiring. Nothing horrible, but neither does it provide anything worthy of keeping your attention.
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Welcome to Hotel Transylvania, Dracula's lavish five-stake resort, where monsters and their families can live it up and no humans are allowed. One special weekend, Dracula (Adam Sandler) has invited all his best friends - Frankenstein and his wife, the Mummy, the Invisible Man, the Werewolf family, and more - to celebrate his beloved daughter Mavis's (Selena Gomez) 118th birthday.
For Dracula catering to all of these legendary monsters is no problem but the party really starts when one ordinary guy stumbles into the hotel and changes everything!
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